“Fourteen heads of state call in to a remote meeting” sounds like a post-COVID adaptation of a “walks into a bar” joke. But it was actually the beginning of what might be the first-ever international agreement reached online. The culmination of two year’s work, the agreement would have been a major accomplishment even without the challenges of a pandemic obstructing the process. And it marks a major win for the oceans. It is nothing less than 14 coastal nations making the commitment to manage their national ocean waters 100% sustainably. The Ocean Panel Major environmental initiatives usually involve the U.S. and a handful of other major economies throwing their weight around, making demands of smaller nations without committing to much of anything themselves. But the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy ( Ocean Panel ) is a unique initiative in two ways. First, the biggest economies were not even invited. Instead, 14 smaller coastal nations united to take definitive action informed by science. Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau, and Portugal, supported by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean formed the Ocean Panel in 2018. The second unique […]

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